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Entrepreneurship competition rewards student business talent

An innovative clothes-drying product, a web platform to help older people digitise their memories, and a project to help young people in need are amongst the winners of a competition to foster fledgling companies and develop brilliant business ideas from students.

Funded by Santander Universities, five successful OU students and graduates will receive up to £5,000 to grow their business idea.

The Student Entrepreneurship Competition has two categories. One supports OU students who have already started their own business – the New Business Challenge, and one supports students who have had a brilliant idea with serious potential – the Innovation Award.

Shortlisted entrants were invited to pitch their idea to a panel of judges in Milton Keynes in March and winners were presented with their awards at a ceremony in the OU Library in May.

The competition winners

New Business Challenge winner – a new aviation training academy

MBA (Technology Management) student Claudio Marturano from Glasgow won £5000 to develop and launch his approved training academy that will create and sustain trained aviation licenced engineers through continuous learning.

Claudio’s business will save aviation maintenance organisations thousands of pounds per year on lost manpower and will keep our skies safer by providing better, continuous training of aircraft maintenance staff.

New Business Challenge winner – a unique intervention service to help young people

Childhood and Youth Studies graduate and Evolve Intervention founder Emma Prince won £5000 prize money to provide early help and outreach services to over 100 students in schools in Essex.

Evolve provides mentoring, coaching, tuition and group work to children and young people aged 8 to 18, and trains staff and adults. It takes referrals from parents, carers and professionals and ensures their interventions are bespoke and suited to the needs of the individual.

The judges felt Emma showed amazing passion for the young people she works with and presented a solid and sustainable business model.

Luxury silk accessory business highly commended in New Business Challenge

Essex Business Studies student Nicholas Allen and his partner Naomi won £1000 towards developing their business Flo&Vie, which designs and sells luxury silk accessories. Nick and Naomi want to get people talking to each other by sparking meaningful conversations with their creative designs.

Nicholas said, “We both feel inspired by the people we spoke with at the awards day. I have often talked to other OU students about learning how to learn later in life and finding the motivation to do something with the subjects we study.”

Unique innovative clothes-drying product is worthy Innovation Award winner

The ‘EasyDryer’ – a first-of-its-kind product capable of drying clothes outdoors even in winter, even in rain – saw Bournemouth Economics student Paul Foulds win the £3000 Innovation award prize. The money will help Paul build a new prototype to further test his scientific solution to an everyday problem, which he hopes will help him pitch to investors and begin approaching stockists.

Web platform connecting different generations highly commended

‘GREATGrandparents’ – a platform for older people to easily digitise family photos and voiceover stories and pass them down to younger generations of their family – won psychology student Jacques Hugo from Scunthorpe £1000 on the Innovation Award. Jacques hopes the project will pave the way to helping people with degenerative brain disease: “GREATGrandparents is going to connect young and older people like never before,” he says.


OU students – enter next year’s competition

Are you interested in entering the next competition, launching later in the year? Please get in touch.

About Author

Kath works in the Media Relations team within the Communications Unit at The Open University. She is a skilled communicator with more than 15 years’ experience working in both the public and private sectors. She has a BA (Hons) English and American Literature from University of Warwick and specialises in stories from the Faculty of Social Science, Faculty of Education and Language Studies, BBC programmes, and student stories. In her spare time Kath enjoys touring the country in her hand-painted camper van, Trevor.

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